Hummus 101: No Ho-Hum Allowed

Its official name in Arabic is hummus bi-tahini – literally “chickpeas in tahini”. But we just call it hummus: a Middle-Eastern vegan dip that’s made from chickpeas (or sometimes other sorts of beans), and blended with tahini (sesame seed paste/sesame butter), along with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and garlic.

Hummus is popular throughout the Middle East and along the entire Mediterranean seacoast, as well as in Middle Eastern cuisine around the globe. Increasingly, it is popular in the US and Europe, too.

Nearly every country and region within the greater Middle East claims to be the location and cuisine that originated hummus – but it’s nearly impossible to “prove” who first thought of this versatile dish. Chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans) are eaten throughout the region (the Levant), and hummus’ basic ingredients—chickpeas, sesame, lemon, and garlic— have been popular staples in cuisines from Egypt to Italy to Israel and Jordan for centuries. Written recipes for hummus-like spreads date back to Egypt in the 13th Century!

How we eat it. These days, folks eat hummus as an appetizer, spread on wedges of pita bread, or dipped with cold, crunchy vegetables, or as part of a mezze platter (kind of like a Middle-Eastern antipasto spread). A dollop of hummus is also a great accompaniment to main dishes like falafel, grilled eggplant or zucchini, chicken or fish.

We’ve got a great recipe for traditional spiced hummus in the AllSpice recipe database.

Hummus recipes that are a little bit more far out: